Small Improvements, Big Impact: Reshaping the JMM Visitor Experience

Posted on May 12th, 2016 by

Performance Counts May 2016

Many years ago I heard a joke: A very creative man, Moshe, was asked by his more run-of-the-mill friend, Joe, what Joe might do to help him be more like Moshe. Moshe replied, “sometimes, the smallest change makes a big difference in the way that you see the world. Try putting your pants on each morning with the other leg first. It will adjust your whole outlook on things.”

Joe thought Moshe might be crazy, but he tried it anyway. The next time he saw Moshe, he heartily thanked him, “I tried it, I put my pants on left leg first now, and since I started, I’ve been able to come up with creative solutions to problems that once seemed intractable.”

“That’s great!” said Moshe, “but what happened to your face?” referring to the large bruises on Joe’s cheeks and eyes.

“I fall on my face every morning, because I’m putting my pants on the wrong leg first.”

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For whatever reason, and despite the punchline, that joke has really stayed with me. Mostly, I guess, because I believe it to be true: small changes, when they’re the right changes, can lead to big differences in individuals, organizations and cultures.

Some fresh, new landscaping.

Some fresh, new landscaping.

Since I started at the JMM about a year ago, we’ve begun collecting small changes:

*We started accepting credit cards at the front desk, so that our visitors don’t need to interrupt their entry experience to pay with card.

*We’ve moved more shop merchandise into the lobby, and have re-organized what’s in the shop, grouping items by theme, allowing us to make the shop experience also educational.

*Our front doors now feature handicap accessible paddles and power-assist opens.

*We brought in a company to power-wash the scaling from the portico that marks our entrance, and we re-landscaped the beds right out front.

*We’ve worked to stabilize the projector in our orientation space so that it no longer wobbles with the HVAC system’s operation.

*We retired the old Tzedakah box into our Institutional Archives, and had fabricated a new acrylic collection box that allows visitors to see others’ donation and encourages greater giving (the money collected this way has markedly increased!).

Our nifty new donations box.

Our nifty new donations box.

And we’re not done! In the coming weeks and months you can expect to see:

*A new phone system (it’s being installed this week) that will allow direct dial to all JMM staffers

*A new software package that will streamline the visitor entry transaction, and will allow us to better understand our visitors – who they are, where they come from, when they visit, etc.

*A facelift for our public bathrooms, including new lighting, sinks and mirrors

*A refresh of our lobby and orientation space, including fresh paint, new furniture and improved donor recognition panels

Taken together, as we move forward into fiscal year 2017 and beyond, these small changes are really starting to add up to positive developments at the JMM. I hope that you’ll agree, and will join me in celebrating the changes we’ve already made and share with me your ideas about how we can improve the visitor experience at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Tracie Guy-DeckerA blog post by Associate Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.

 

 

 

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Reflections on my 1st year at the JMM

Posted on April 27th, 2016 by

Where you'll find Graham...usually!

Where you’ll find Graham…usually!

As it’s coming up to my year anniversary working at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, I thought I’d share a few projects I’ve worked on (and some fun I’ve had along the way). You may be wondering what a Visitor Services Coordinator does. While my primary responsibilities involve taking admissions at the front desk, delivering the daily synagogue tours when our volunteer docents are unavailable, scheduling school and adult visits to the Museum and handling rentals, I’ve also taken on a few other tasks.  For instance, I’ve learned the Point of Sale system in the shop, worked to make the museum more accessible and have improved the visitor experience by installing a bike rack and re-landscaping our front courtyard area.

Enjoying baseball with the interns

Enjoying baseball with the interns

I’ve enjoyed the challenge of working with contractors, gaining experience with project management and learning new tours such as the “Sounds of the Synagogue.”  I’ve mentored our summer interns and organized a field trip for them to an Orioles game in Camden Yards. I also assisted with the de-installation of the Mendes Cohen exhibit.

De-installing 'The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen'

De-installing ‘The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen’

Sometimes I’ve been asked to do a few usual things such as installing Ikea bookcases for our shop, acting as a valet parker when guests got blocked in our staff parking lot, and driving to the Museum late at night for a false burglary alarm.

Showing off some Ikea skills!

Showing off some Ikea skills!

I’ve had fun acting as an ambassador for the JMM whether it was tabling at the National Council for Public history’s annual conference in Baltimore or dressing as a doctor to promote our new Beyond Chicken Soup (chickensoupexhibit.org) exhibit for Charm City Tribe’s Wild Purim Rumpus.

The Wild Purim Rumpus

The Wild Purim Rumpus

Part of the joy of the job has been interacting with visitors from all over the world and hearing their connections to Jewish life in Baltimore. I’ve made lasting friendships with our many volunteers and have grown close to many of the staff.

In the coming year, I hope to take on more volunteer management responsibilities, as our current volunteer coordinator, Ilene Cohen, will be soon leaving the Museum. I also look forward to transitioning to a computerized ticketing and admission system. As always, if you have any suggestions of how I can make the visitor experience better, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

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Upgrades to the Visitor Experience

Posted on March 30th, 2016 by

As I was reading Creating Great Visitor Experiences: A Guide for Museums, Parks, Zoos, Gardens, & Libraries by Stephanie Weaver, it got me thinking how we could make improvements to the visitor experience at the JMM.  The book encouraged me to take a new look at the museum from the visitor’s point of view beginning with the moment that he or she decided to visit, through the orientation at the front desk to finding comfort in our facilities and finally leaving with both tangible (such as merchandise from the shop) and intangibles (knowledge and a sense of discovery).

book cover

book cover

I found that a lot of what was mentioned in the book we are already doing. For instance, we always try to welcome visitors with a smile, positive attitude and relevant information.  We also strive to have a clean work space, restrooms and fresh merchandise visible from the entrance. I will also continue to ask our security contractor if we may choose guards with outdoing, service-based personalities to work at our site. Our management has also doing an excellent job investing in the staff by encouraging us to attend relevant conferences and webinars.

Esther's Place - now with signage!

Esther’s Place – now with signage!

However, there were a few things that needed changing or updating. After listening through some of the recorded information on our phone system, I found some outdated information so I got that updated to reflect our current exhibit and upcoming programs. Stephanie Weaver emphasized the importance of having an inviting entrance. Partly as a result, next time you visit, you’ll notice that our front courtyard area has been re-landscaped to include more attractive shrubs and flowers.  I am also going to make some changes to front desk handbook so that all our front desk volunteers know how to effectively provide excellent customer service so that our visitors will want to come back again and again.

A little sprucing for spring

A little sprucing for spring

We have also made a few other changes that tie in nicely with our accessibility efforts. Large-print brochures and Braille text for the Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America (http://chickensoupexhibit.org/) exhibit, are now available for check-out at the front desk. As I learned that wayfinding is important, we have installed a new ADA restroom sign and welcome sign for the Medicine exhibit in the lobby area. I have also installed new seating to allow our visitors, whether it’s a mother with small children or an elderly couple, to rest while they explore our exhibits.

Accessibility is important!

Accessibility is important!

There are also a few things which we may consider doing in the future such as visitor surveys, upgrades to our restrooms and new graphics by the front desk. As always, if you have any suggestions or feedback, don’t hesitate to contact me at ghumphrey@jewishmuseummd.org.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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